This is the first official re-release on vinyl under licensed courtesy of BMG Rights Management, UK, remastered from an original master copy out of the vaults of BMG. The album was originally released in 1971 on Transatlantic produced by Peter Bardens (Camel). Marsipulami's sombre and slightly spooky flute- laden music, often evoking mythology, certainly was groundbreaking stuff and should've caught many more "underground public" ears. Side one: “Prelude to the Arena” starts quite violently with Sabbath style dramatic chords and the theatrical exclamations of vocalist Fred Hasson. This leads to alternating calm and rock sections with organ, guitar, flute. Bass and some furious drumming are pretty stellar throughout the jamming. Quite a nice opener. “Peace of Rome” starts with a back and forth between vocalizations and flute followed by further lovely flute playing and another fluent rock section with organ. “The Arena” begins with more dramatic narration over Hammond blasts and then some extended organ over subdued drumming, bass, and female background vocals. The flutes come in and the sound is quite eerie and a bit exotic. In the middle there is a great section of piano, flute and whispered female vocal, the calm before the chaos to follow. Starting at 9:20 is a section that sounds quite Camel-ish, one wonders if Barden’s picked up some subconscious influence here although most of Marsupilami is much more captivating than Camel. The latter half of this song features again some truly fine prog rock moments, great guitar work, mellotron, vocals, and overall memorable textures.
Side 2 begins with “Time Shadows”, which starts with echoed vocal and organ, then acoustic guitar and flute join and then harmonica and vocal. Soon a brisk bass and jazzy drum beat grabs the weirdness and pulls it along, then some piano joins in. About half way through we get the saxophone and electric guitar trading licks with an urgent flute and rhythm section behind. The last minute gets pretty crazy with the sax and guitar laying down some very heavy rock. “Spring” is a great closer and another good hippie rock moment. After yet another insanely dramatic beginning the track suddenly jumps into the most delightfully melodic passage of flute, piano, and gentle Camel like rhythm. That stops and we move into a vocal weirdness section with cathartic wailing to edgy strings and keys, then a short e-guitar solo-the lead guitar work is pretty fine. After several minutes it slips back to the Camel-like melody to provide a pleasing and memorable ending.
The organ work gives a bit of a early '70s psych feel. Arena is a concept album with songs run in the 7-11minutes range. Earthy, powerful and intriguing, Marsupilami was one of the first true progressive rock bands. This is a must for all lovers of early british prog rock. Album comes with 6-sided cover-sized insert sheet with comprehensive story by singer Fred Hasson and add. Glastonbury story by organ player Leary Hasson, rare and unseen photos and lyrics. Don`t miss